Border Crossing or Checkpoint Charlie
When the protagonist has to cross a well-defended (or at least well-patrolled) frontier.


(permanent link) added: 2011-06-20 21:59:53 sponsor: Odon (last reply: 2011-06-24 23:33:32)

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The endgame of Run for the Border. An Espionage Trope, especially during the Cold War what with the Berlin Wall and other well-guarded communist frontiers.

Sometimes the border is covered by barbed wire, guns, dogs and searchlights. At other times it's merely a stretch of open water or forest, but still patrolled at regular intervals.

The Checkpoint Charlie version is when this crossing has to be made at an official border control station. In that case the protagonist better hope their papers are in order.

  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold opens with the Checkpoint Charlie version. It doesn't go well -- the spy is gunned down right in front of the protagonist Alec Leamas. At the end an escape route is organised across the Berlin Wall, but the Love Interest is gunned down in a pre-arranged setup, as well as Leamas when he goes back for her.
  • Charlie Muffin (1979). Charlie's superiors set him up to be arrested when he crosses the Berlin Wall. Fortunately he's suspicious and gives his papers to an East German hoping to escape to the West. He panics when the arrest takes place and gets killed.
  • Happens several times in the Quiller series, and often mentioned as a Noodle Incident.
  • Subverted in Monsters2010. When the protagonists arrive at the huge wall at the US border they find it abandoned, as the aliens have overrun it.
  • Spoofed in the 1985 action-comedy Gotcha where the hero has to run the gauntlet of Checkpoint Charlie's Obstructive Bureaucrats. He flips them the bird once he's safely through.
  • Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. Frederic Henry and his Love Interest have to row across an Italian lake in a storm to Switzerland in order to escape arrest. They see a Guardi patrol boat, but fortunately it doesn't see them.
  • Friday by Robert A. Heinlein. Action Girl Friday has to cross the Divided States of America. In one case she takes out someone repairing a fence, only for him to follow after her because he wants to escape as well.
  • Game, Set & Match. Bernard Samson is haunted by the memory of a friend who performed a Heroic Sacrifice while crossing the Berlin Wall, enabling him to escape. This scene is shown in the TV series.
  • Babylon A.D. Vin Diesel has to cross the Bering Strait on a Live-Action Escort Mission, despite it being patrolled by Attack Drones that kill everything that moves.
  • James Bond in The Living Daylights arranges for a defector to cross the Czechoslovakian border twice -- first by being shunted through a pipeline and on the second occasion by Weaponised Car. And a cello.
  • The Dogs of War details how guns are smuggled across the French border -- they can either take the random risk of a permanent customs point, or try a forest road that could be manned by a flying customs check that searches every vehicle.

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